AARP recently reported that the baby boomer generation’s odds of divorcing outpace all other groups. In fact, it is the only age category where divorce rates are rising. AARP’s conclusion was based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and a 2014 study from Bowling Green State University, which revealed that more than 1 in 4 people who listed their marital status as “divorced” were age 50 or above.1
Today’s boomer should take this phenomenon seriously. Together, a boomer couple has had several decades to plan for retirement, and in many cases, they have built a sizeable chunk of assets they now need to divide. Without an experienced divorce attorney who understands the intricacies of complex divorce cases, boomers could end up with a disadvantageous divorce settlement.
Fortunately, boomers who are divorcing or looking to marry again do have options to legally protect and prepare themselves in the state of Texas.
Taking the High Road: Collaborative Divorce in Texas
As is true with any life transition, divorce can be friendly or steeped in anger. Many of the boomers we represent at Connatser Family Law choose to go the “friendly” route and part ways through a collaborative divorce. Both parties may simply be ready to move on and build a new life, hoping to protect even grown children from getting caught in the middle, and/or do not want to get bogged down in litigation which is oftentimes more contentious and expensive than collaborative law.
In some cases, the two have simply grown apart and prefer to divide their assets in a sensitive, respectable and agreeable fashion. A collaborative approach to divorce in Texas allows couples to come to a settlement agreement, outside the court system, at their own pace.
We find that in many cases, collaborative divorces tend to move faster and result in less acrimony than divorces handled through traditional litigation. A series of joint sessions are held between the parties, their attorneys, and allied professionals, such as mental health or financial professionals, to facilitate helping the parties reach a final resolution.
Texas is one of most progressive states when it comes to supporting alternative dispute resolutions, and it was the first state to adopt statutes pertaining to the collaborative law process. If you are interested in pursuing a “friendlier” divorce in Texas, look for an attorney who specializes in and has practiced collaborative law.
This divorce settlement route is different than mediation, which typically occurs directly following the discovery period, but prior to trial in traditional litigation cases. In mediation, an unbiased mediator works with both parties going back and forth between separate rooms to reach a settlement to avoid going to trial. Mediations typically take place over a single day after the parties spend a period of time in the litigation process.
Protecting Assets: Prenups and Cohabitation Agreements in Texas
Divorcing boomers aren’t the only clients who walk through the doors here at Connatser Family Law. We also represent clients who are widowed, previously divorced or never married, and who need legal guidance prior to tying the knot or cohabitating with someone new.
In cases such as these, especially for individuals with a high net worth, we encourage clients to enter into agreements to protect their estates and business interests. It is no secret that people with sizeable estates who decide to get married (or remarry) often pursue premarital agreements.
At the same time, couples who prefer to live together without being married have options too, in the form of cohabitation agreements. While the two agreements have distinct differences (the most obvious of which is there is no contemplated marriage in a cohabitation agreement), they both serve one important purpose: the protection of assets.
Prenups and cohabitation agreements can ensure that any valuable assets, property and treasured family keepsakes end up with children, grandchildren and other loved ones and not in the hands of a new spouse or partner. On the other hand, these agreements can also ensure that the new spouse or partner does not walk away empty-handed.
Seek Advice from an Experienced Texas Family Law Attorney
If you are age 50 or above and looking to divorce, remarry or cohabitate in the state of Texas, speak with an attorney who is skilled in Texas divorce, collaborative law, complex property settlements and premarital agreements.
1. Schwartz P, PhD. “Boomer Generation, aka the Divorce Generation.” AARP website, www.aarp.org; July 3, 2014. Available at http://www.aarp.org/home-family/sex-intimacy/info-2014/divorce-marriage-boomers-schwartz.html?intcmp=HP-spot4. Accessed July 16, 2014.